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What Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg Want to Know Before Hiring You

In Interviews — by Dave Anderson


Facebook is one of the world’s most visited websites and easily the most popular social network. That means there is a big company operating behind the scenes, made up of talented people like CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Jobs at Facebook are some of the most sought after in Silicon Valley and the overall technology industry. With so many candidates to consider, the company has to take a smart approach to identifying the right people for every job it hires for.

In this article, we’ll discuss Zuckerberg’s personal hiring philosophy and what the company accounts for when interviewing.

Hire people you would want to work for

In a live Q&A session streamed on Facebook in September 2015, Zuckerberg was asked for the main principle he follows when hiring. He gave a simple answer that helps us understand what he looks for in candidates for high-priority positions.

“I would only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person,” he said.

Zuckerberg is essentially saying he strives to hire the most outstanding people possible for leadership roles at Facebook. People that are so talented and successful they’re actually qualified to be his boss.

He goes on to point to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as an example of someone he would be comfortable taking direction from. She has extensive executive experience in different technology companies and can be credited with much of Facebook’s success over the past decade.

Some leaders don’t want to be overshadowed by the people that work for them. But managers can’t do everything and are only as successful as the people around them. Zuckerberg is saying that it’s important to put ego aside and build a team made up of the best people you can find.

Be smart about hiring needs

You would think Facebook’s rapid growth means they’ve gone on a hiring spree. While that’s true to some extent, the company thinks long and hard before expanding the staff.

This philosophy comes from Zuckerberg’s in-depth involvement in the company during its early days. He built most of the initial site on his own and stayed closely involved as the company grew.

“My first move when I was building Facebook wasn’t to hire a team of engineers to go build a product,” he has said. “I generally each step along the way have tried to do as much as I can myself.”

This approach keeps employment costs reasonable and ensures everyone is working at full capacity. However, it takes close attention from managers and the company’s leadership team. If someone is overworked and verging on burnout, the company should get them relief before they decide to leave for a less strenuous position.

Be upfront about what your company stands for

A lot of companies try to hire people who are the right culture fit. They want employees who have the necessary skills while also holding the same values the company embodies. However, the company has to clearly define its culture first if it hopes to find these like-minded people. Facebook has the following company values it takes into account when hiring:

  • Be Bold
  • Focus on Impact
  • Move Fast
  • Be Open
  • Build Social Value

Zuckerberg says these values combine to mean the company strives to have a positive global impact. It’s not just about building a social networking site. It also means building a community every human can use for good.

So how does the company screen for this when hiring? In a February 2017 interview, Tudor Havriliuc, Facebook’s Vice President of Compensation, Benefits and Global Mobility said they simply ask candidates, “why do you want to work here?”

While there is no one right answer to this question, the company looks for employees who understand the global value their work can provide. People who see the big picture will be able to come up with innovative ideas that will impact Facebook users around the world.

What’s Facebook’s hiring process like?

While it’s fun to speculate what Mark Zuckerberg looks for in an ideal employee, the vast majority of candidates will never interview with him. If you want to get hired at Facebook, you should realistically prepare for the interview experience. Facebook engineer Carlos Bueno wrote an article outlining what candidates can expect when applying for developer jobs:

  • Phone screening – An initial conversation with a recruiter to talk about the role and your background.
  • Campus tour – Prior to the in-person interview, you’ll be shown around Facebook’s massive campus in Menlo Park, California.
  • Onsite interview – After the tour, you’ll participate in a series of interviews throughout the day. If you’re an expert in a certain technology, the recruiting team will try to match you with interviewers who have the same knowledge.
  • Whiteboard coding test – You’ll be asked to solve programming questions on a whiteboard so the interview team can understand your thought process.
  • Interview feedback – The recruiting team will send you a survey in the days after the interview so you can give your thoughts on the experience.

Getting hired at Facebook is a challenge. Everyone knows about the company and some of the most talented people aspire to work there. Their approach toward hiring offers a few lessons lesser-known companies can use to find the right people.


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